Lockyer says he always knew Smtih would be a great
DARREN Lockyer knew when he retired as the record holder with 36 Origin games in 2011 that Cameron Smith would one day claim his record.
That day comes tomorrow night when Smith runs out for game 37, and Lockyer said it was a wonderful reward for a player who was as humble and genuine as any to have played the game of rugby league.
"You only had to do the maths when I retired to know Cam was going to get me easily," Lockyer told Australian Regional Media.
Lockyer was playing fullback in 2003 when Smith debuted in the "dead" third game under Wayne Bennett.
"Cam will play over 40 Origins - he'll hold the record for a long time I would think," said the former champion No.6, who also played 59 games for Australia.
"When I was coming up close to the record, I looked at the names like Lewis, Langer, Meninga.... it's pretty humbling to be a part of that group."
Lockyer, who Smith looked up to as a young kid growing up playing junior football in Logan, also said the present Maroons captain had barely played a poor Origin game.
"His composure on the big stage is invaluable and he's been like that ever since his debut," Lockyer said.
"He was made for that arena."
The Broncos great said he remembered Smith's first game of Origin fondly, because Queensland won by a then-record score of 36-6.
"He looked like a kid. Everyone said he should have been playing golf, not rugby league," he said.
Ironically there is a Queensland professional golfer on the US PGA Tour who goes by the same name ... Cameron Smith.
"You can't really tell what people have inside of them after just one game," Lockyer said.
"But he handled himself so professionally and wasn't over-awed by the occasion. You knew then he was going to be a regular in the team."
Like most of the great players before him, Wally Lewis and also Lockyer, Smith always seems to have time and be a play ahead of his rivals.
"When you play those big games the good players know how to handle them. They don't make mistakes," Lockyer said.
"They were born to play the big games and Cam makes it look so easy.
"You could count the bad options he has taken in his whole career on one hand.
"He gets his forwards around the field and when he decides to make a play himself, nine times out of 10 it's the right play."